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Interview with Dana Carvey

People might think, 'Okay, well, monkeys do squat, but they dont talk, and if they do talk, apparently they're very truthful, if they happen to be squatting.'

HBO

What inspired you to do Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies?

Dana Carvey

I wanted to do an overview of politics, from Ronald Reagan to potentially Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or John McCain. This was my last chance to do my takeon George W. Bush and I wanted to do some stuff on Al Gore.

HBO

So you've got a Barack Obama?

Dana Carvey

My Obama's fledging. Barack Obama I don't even know yet. I know he's very controlled, almost like a corporate speaker. "I like to say hope.' And I like to say change.' Sometimes, for a change I'll say hope.' Then I'll say change.' Yes, we can, have hope, and change, and can, and change and hope. Hope and change and change and can..."

HBO

How about a Bill Clinton?

Dana Carvey

Can't you imagine him watching the debates? He must've been like a caged animal, "Damn, I would've kicked ass on that question, I just can't take this. What is she doing? What is she doing? Smile, smile, come on now!" It's like his baby, his kid on television there. "Come on, Hill! Bring up the bitter comment! Okay, no smile. Now, go nice, now go nice! Go nice! She's not going nice. She's not going nice. Son of a bitch, she's not going nice. She's going after him. Oh my god, the cheeks, the teeth, the hair, I can't take it. The pant suit-I can't take another pant suit. That is not a sexy look. Ladies, news flash! Pant suits do not work for the fellas! Can a brother get a thong one time?"

HBO

How'd you come up with the title Squatting Monkeys tell No Lies'?

Dana Carvey

Hmm. I don't know if I should give it away. Watch the show to find out what that really means. Although, I do talk a little bit about religiosity, in general, so it may be within that sphere of...that notion. See, I went to San Francisco State, so I have a pretty big vocabulary. I actually thought it would be great to have a coffee table book that says "A hundred words you need to know to sound smart at a party." Because you run unto words like: paradigm, conundrum, zeitgeist and ...

HBO

So you're three words into your hundred word coffee table book.

Dana Carvey

That's why I need to write it. I only know those three words. And, I still have to look them up. I will tell you this about the title. I figured, you could either get cute and clever, with "Kickin' It..." or "Groovin' It..." or do something that's just a curious abstraction. So people might think, "Okay, well, monkeys do squat, but they don't talk, and if they do talk, apparently they're vey truthful, if they happen to be squatting."

The only reason to really do stand-up is that you can just change it on the fly. It's a little bit like jazz.

HBO

Have you been doing some tune-up gigs?

Dana Carvey

I went back to some clubs, which was fun to use as a warm up-getting back to my roots. The Friday night late show, where the audience is two hundred people throwing beer at you. Often I would play the theme to Rocky, as I was on the way to the clubs.

HBO

What's your take on going off-script and improv-ing on stage?

Dana Carvey

The best shows are totally unscripted, but some nights, it's just not happening. You feel awkward. It's like Derek Jeter going 0 for 4. Then you have to have an act. Anyone could be at a party, with a martini in their hand, and suddenly just tell a funny story. But then say to them, for a hundred dollars, do that exact same story tomorrow night at nine-thirty, in front of a hundred strangers-that's a quantum leap. That's the work part of it. But the only reason to really do stand-up is that you can just change it on the fly. It's a little bit like jazz.

HBO

Do you get into the whole Hollywood fast lane lifestyle?

Dana Carvey

No, not really. I'm a child of the 60s. I grew up middle class-my dad was a high school teacher, there were five kids in our family. We all shared a nine hundred square foot home, with one bathroom. That was exciting. And my wife is Irish Catholic, and also, very, very barely middle class.

The kind of money that show business will pay you, unless you need to have shoes made of diamonds, you can actually put it in the bank and sort of be okay. Besides, everything good in life is either free or near free. Think about it. A hot shower. Maybe seeing a matinee-that's like, $4.50. A Subway sandwich. And, sex is free, or nearly free, depending on who you are.

HBO

So you don't have an entourage?

Dana Carvey

[Jersey guy accent] Nah, I don't got no entourage. I travel kind of light. I don't even pack heat. I pack a lunch. No, I'm incredibly boring, and incredibly normal.

Dana Carvey: Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies